MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The head of an American Indian tribe is urging nonviolent opposition to the possible opening of an iron ore mine near their reservation in northern Wisconsin.
Mike Wiggins Jr., chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, says the tribe condemns "any planned or improvised act of violence or vandalism" against the mining company.
Wiggins' written statement issued Friday comes at the end of a tense week that saw mining company Gogebic Taconite hire paramilitary style guards armed with high-powered rifles at the site in the Penokee Hills. The guards were removed on Wednesday because they did not have the required state license.
Wiggins says the tribe's opposition to the mine remains strong, but it will only condone nonviolent civil resistance as necessary.
ODANAH, Wis. (BAD RIVER TRIBE NEWS RELEASE) - According to Chairman Mike Wiggins, Jr., “Although we believe that the actions taken by Gogebic Taconite leading to the destruction of the Bad River headwaters and contamination of our surface and ground water resources would be criminal, we absolutely condemn any planned or improvised act of violence or vandalism against the industry or companies, and emphatically discourage any person to take part in any violent action,” continued Mike Wiggins, “ Nonviolent civil resistance, if necessary, has to be our response as ordinary citizens against extraordinary injustice. Large-scale mountain-top removal threatens the health and security of our communities, and nonviolent action proportional to the threat is required.”
“The majority of people living within the Bad River Watershed do not welcome any mining-related activities in their community, including the recent addition of masked, armed guards operating illegally in northern Wisconsin. It is irresponsible to continue pursuing this project without the consent of the local communities that would be most affected by the blasting, toxic dust and perpetual water contamination associated with this project. Nothing in the state’s new Iron Mining Bill contemplates how this massive project could affect our families’ health and the deep connection we have to what are irreplaceable land and water resources.”
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa continues to oppose any activities related to mining in the Penokee Hills. The Penokee Hills are the source for the nation’s sacred water, which is also necessary for sustaining all life within the Bad River Watershed. An open-pit mountaintop removal mine – proposed by Gogebic Taconite LLC – would contaminate those sacred waters with sulfides and heavy metals for generations, threatening the health of the people and the delicate ecosystems treasured by those who live here.
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa encourages concerned citizens to freely exercise their constitutionally-protected rights of association and freedom of speech to raise awareness about the urgent nature of our plight, and as necessary, to engage in nonviolent civil resistance. Nonviolent civil resistance involves peaceful demonstrations in line with the transformative community organizing carried out by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and is consistent with the seven Anishinabe values of: humility, love, honesty, truth, bravery, respect and wisdom.
With over 7,000 members, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on an over 124,000-acre reservation in an area within Ashland and Iron Counties on the south shore of Lake Superior (known by the tribe as Gichi Gami). The Ojibwe people have a long and rich heritage throughout the Great Lakes region and at Odanah on Lake Superior prior to European traders, missionaries and settlers. Treaties signed by eleven Ojibwe Tribes ceded territory in the region, including what is currently the upper one third of the State of Wisconsin. Learn more about the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians on their website, badriver-nsn.gov.